Blast from the past at 35th year rites

By Francis T.J. Ochoa
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines?Players from four of the nine pioneering squads of the Philippine Basketball Association, headed by the legendary Robert Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez, are expected to join a rare reunion that will highlight the league?s one-of-a-kind 35th anniversary celebration.

The four ballclubs where the roster of invited players came from are the same teams that saw action in the inaugural double-header on April 9, 1975.

?This will be the highlight of the entire Foundation Week celebration,? said PBA commissioner Renauld ?Sonny? Barrios. ?We will be turning back the hands of time and paying tribute to these greats that evening.?

Invited to the reunion bash are players from Mariwasa-Noritake, Concepcion Carrier, Toyota and U-Tex.

Mariwasa and Concepcion played the first-ever league game, which will forever be associated with Concepcion?s Gregorio ?Joy? Dionisio, who scored the first official basket. Mariwasa, however, won the game, 101-98.

The second match was the highlight of the league?s opening day, with Toyota debuting against U-Tex in a match that was highlighted by the presence of Jaworski and Fernandez, the two Comets stars who have become the iconic figures of Philippine basketball.
Jaworski, Fernandez and Francis Arnaiz led the Comets to a 105-101 victory over the Wranglers.

Among other former Mariwasa players invited to the rites are Hubert Filipinas, Jesse Sullano, Luke Dacula Dator, Epoy Alcantara, Mark Arriola, Edmund Tierra and Ulysses Rodriguez.

Concepion invitees include Jimmy Noblezada, Jimmy Mariano, Dionisio, Alfonso Mora, Lucio Lim, Ramon Lucindo, Roel Deles, Jesus Dungo and Francisco Henares.

Invited from Toyota aside from Jaworski, Fernandez and Arnaiz are Ompong Segura, Oscar Rocha, Jake Rojas, and Orly Bauzon.

From U-Tex are Danny Basilan, Egay Gomez, Romeo Frank, Roy Deles, George Lizares and Orlando delos Santos.

An estimated crowd of 18,000 packed the Araneta Coliseum for the PBA?s first playdate, which also featured Mariwasa import Cisco Oliver, who later became famous for his Alaska Milk commercial.

Oliver had 48 points followed by the 17 of former Crispa Redmanizer great Adriano ?Jun? Papa.

Noblezada fired 24 points for Concepcion and Mariano added 17. Dionisio eventually finished with 10 points.

Segura was the top scorer for Toyota in the second game, burning the fastbreak lanes to finish with 23. Arnaiz added 22, Big Boy Reynoso 17, Fernandez 13, and Jaworski 11.

Leading U-Tex was Larry Mumar and Danny Florencio, another Redmanizer legend, with 29 points each. Former Crispa mainstay Rudolf Kutch added 13 points.

Both teams were tied at the close of the first 12 minutes and the game went down the wire before Toyota emerged victorious in the end.

The invited players and other teammates who want to join the celebration are requested to call the PBA office and get in touch with Coy Perez at 470-2768 to 70.

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